Ahhh, punk rock. It’s so nostalgic to think back to my teenage years – when I’d narrowly escaped a life of having terrible taste in music. Nothing but love for my girls in Midsun Jr. High School, but I think I truly had to move away to figure out a way to be myself in that crazy adolescent time. In a land where we’d all wear the same Mavi jeans and Buffalo tank tops every day, [YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US!], it was hard for a girl to find herself. I didn’t want to move away. But when my Mom yanked me out of Grade 9, I found myself in the small highway town of Okotoks, where I knew 2 people. I was annoyed to be there. But it ended up changing the entire course of my life in a lot of ways. In the obvious way of course – I was in a different location so I was literally walking a different path – but in a really fundamental way too. I only stayed in that town for about a year before I got the fuck outta doge, if you know what I mean. That’s another story for another day – but that one year, living away from the people I grew up with, my circle of friends, and being forced to start fresh, I think it was ultimately one of the best things that ever happened to me. For a couple reasons, but one big one: I discovered punk rock.
Not that I didn’t know it existed, or hadn’t heard of it in a general sort of way – but no one I hung out with at the time listed to punk. They didn’t listen to rock at all. It was mostly Top 40 pop music and hip hop. Granted, there is definitely still a place in my heart for those guilty pleasures. But I didn’t hear a single NOFX song until I was 14 years old, living in good ol’ Okotoks, Alberta. Just Blink 182 and Sum 41 for this girl until finally;
I was saved. There was suddenly an entire universe in front of my face that I never even knew existed. Everyone in this town listened to punk rock. I was embarrassed. I didn’t know anything about anything anymore! I could talk about Dr. Dre all day, or even Travis Barker but couldn’t offer a single word on Bad Religion. I remember telling my mom that I needed to go to HMV to buy some CDs. NEEDED TO. She gave me some money and I went and blew it all in minutes. I think she gave me $60, and I got 5 CDs or something and I’m pretty positive they were NOFX, Pennywise, Bad Religion, Rise Against and AFI. I remember being really into AFI when I first heard them – so “Emo” in the literal sense – meaning super emotional lyrics and songs – perfect for the angst-y teenage soul. And that one album of Rise Against’s, I think it was their first – The Unraveling. I just loved it. Played that song “Angel” over and over again.
Since then I’ve been eating punk rock up in all its different styles and forms, and figuring out my real preferences. Back then, I was just listening to it to be cool and fit in and to be honest, I never really put on NOFX or Pennywise anymore. The odd time I’ll throw it on for nostalgia’s sake, but I’ve narrowed my interests and am figuring out what it is that makes me really like music, and for me, from very early on – it was all about the live show. And no genre of music has a better atmosphere than punk. Especially those really fun, bouncy types of punk like ska – nothing beats it. Except maybe Celtic punk, or gypsy punk, or polka punk. Or ska. Did I say ska? I feel like I’m the only person left on earth who still loves ska – I just wish people would come out more often to see how fun these shows really are. I can never stop smiling at a ska show.
And now I’ve now found myself completely head over heels with the wrong era. Punk rock music of the mid-70’s to mid-80’s has swept me away – I daydream constantly about what it must have been like back then. The dawn of punk rock and all of the beautifully flawed subcultures it spawned. Post punk and new wave have especially captured my heart recently. Of course I fell so in love with The Clash quite some time ago. And the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, The Ramones – English punk rock in the mid-seventies must have been like the peak of some sort of collective drug. There’s this Vancouver band The Tranzmitors – one of the first bands I saw live at the Rickshaw as part of a school project – who were so Clash-esque I almost cried of happiness when I saw them live. My friend Scott took this picture of me. Pure bliss.
And now, working at the Rickshaw 3 years later I’ve had the chance to see so many bands I would have never even known about. The Rezillos, The Flamin’ Groovies, The Chameleons, to name a few – that have just made me fall deeper and deeper in love with alternative music from 70’s and 80’s and I wish every day the Hot Tub Time Machine was a real thing.